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RCFP: Court’s proposed rules on accessing juror names are unconstitutional

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  1. Court Access

The Reporters Committee and a coalition of 21 news media organizations are urging the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia not to adopt recently proposed rules that would restrict public access to the names of jurors and prospective jurors in criminal and civil cases.

Under the proposed rules, “Names of prospective and sitting petit jurors shall not be disclosed to the public outside of open court, except upon order of the Court. A request for disclosure of petit juror names to the public must be made to the presiding judge.”

In public comments submitted to the court’s advisory committee on local rules on June 30, 2022, Reporters Committee attorneys argue that the proposed rules are inconsistent with the public’s presumptive rights of access to judicial proceedings and records. Additionally, they argue that, if adopted, the rules would impose an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech by members of the press and public.